Protesting students should reconsider their actions

Screen shot 2011-11-14 at 6.23.51 PMAlexis Sachdev argues that the actions of Penn State students are unacceptable in light of the Sandusky scandal.

In 1994, Jerry Sandusky allegedly molested a 10-year-old boy. And then allegedly he did it again in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2007. In all, Penn State’s defensive coordinator is facing 40 counts of sexual abuse on underage boys.

Between 1994 and Nov. 5, 2011, when Sandusky was arrested, several figures–Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, Gov. Tom Corbett, then Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar and others–were made aware of Sandusky’s lascivious lifestyle. It wasn’t until Nov. 5, however, that any public action was taken against Sandusky.

Yet, PSU students don’t seem to care so much about that as they do about the shame these events have brought their not-so-Happy Valley.  In fact, it seems they have altogether ignored Sandusky’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde complex, and instead are up in arms about the loss of JoePa.

Students launched a merciless blitz on their campus late Thursday night, tearing down lamp posts, flipping a news van and throwing stones and bottles at reporters.

They took to Facebook, vigorously pumping out statuses proclaiming their support of their alma mater.

The Staters proclaiming their love and devotion to JoePa, to Old Main and to PSU’s legacy are the very same ones who rioted in the streets, destroying their pride and joy.

And what about the alleged victims? What’s being done about the eight boys brought to Sandusky under the pretense of The Second Mile, an organization he founded for underprivileged Pennsylvania youth?  It’s only now that any attention has been given to these alleged victims.

PSU students aren’t actually insensitive imbeciles, though. They’re just toddlers. First, they lost what they want: Paterno. Then they threw a temper tantrum and destroy everything in their path. Only then, in the wake of said destruction, did they take a step back and realize the magnitude and implications of something greater than their own hyper-inflated egos. Only then did some students hold a candlelight vigil in honor of these victims. Only then did they realize the error of their ways.

The saying, “too little, too late,” comes to mind. While the rest of Pennsylvania’s citizens’ hearts went out to these victims immediately after hearing of Sandusky’s scandal, it took some PSU students nearly four days to get their heads out of the sand. Or, in this case, Paterno’s butt.

I am personally ashamed to call myself a fellow student in the Commonwealth System of Higher Education. As a Temple Owl, I have always felt inferior to the Nittany Lions, be it in terms of perceived quality of education, the fact that I live five blocks from the ghetto, or that Temple isn’t a raging party school like the blue and white.

Yet, in light of this recent scandal, I can only rejoice in knowing that my fellow Owls would never react in such a manner.

Abbey Gunzenhauser, also a senior elementary and special education major said she thinks that Penn State students are tarnishing their reputation.

“Their behavior after the fact brought more controversy along with it, and only made it worse,” Gunzenhauser said. “But, it shows that they have passion for their school, but they need to put that aside and think about the people that are important.”

Groupthink, cult-like mentality aside, all I’d really like to see from Staters is an apology. Apologize to the victims, on behalf of Sandusky. Apologize to the state, for exacerbating an already volatile scandal. And apologize to JoePa, for idolatry, exaltation and for allowing their blinding devotion to him eclipse the larger issues at hand.

Alexis Sachdev can be reached at


  1. To be fair the candlelight vigil was scheduled before the riot occurred it just took place after. As for the student that were out there rioting you hit the nail on the head.

  2. As a Penn State Alumni and a Pennsylvania resident I am amazed at the polarization that has developed in recent years towards The Pennsylvania State University, AKA “Penn State”. I personally have a positive impression of some institutions of higher learning, and an indifference towards others, but I can’t say that I actually actively dislike any. What surprises me is the tidal wave of repressed anger evidenced in this column – especially for a fellow state school.
    I don’t believe any favoritism what-so-ever should be shown to anyone involved in this crime against the most innocent among us and this is not an attempt to excuse Joe Paterno or anyone who is proven to be at fault, but prejudice is an adverse opinion formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge, and the author presumes to know enough to pass judgment within days? If I asked Alexis Sachdev to apologize for being part of a state system of higher learning that was responsible for pedophilia I’m pretty sure her response would be “I didn’t have anything to do with that!” How about indicting all colleges that have football programs? Woops. How about the state of Pennsylvania? The University System?
    For many years Penn Staters have held Joe Paterno in high regard for his contributions to the University and his emphasis on education. We weren’t alone. Two months ago both of YOUR Pennsylvania State Senators nominated Joe Paterno for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of a lifetime of achievement. No one said that he was without sin or flaw.
    We all should aspire to positively influence as many people in this world as Joe Paterno. That’s what the Penn State students know. No one is proud of the student’s overreaction, but their response was to the media’s rush to judgment and the overreaching condemnation of an entire institution of higher learning for the actions of a few. Save some of your righteous indignation for the Penn State police who had a report from 1998, and for the attorney general’s office that took over supervision of the case in 2010 but didn’t notify The Second Mile until 2011, but I guess that doesn’t fit the Penn State bashing narrative.

    While I empathize with your inferiority complex I suggest thinking twice about throwing the first stone and passing judgment on an entire institution the next time you watch maintenance men pressure washing puke from the sidewalk in front of your dorm.
    The mob mentality on display at Penn State was shameful. Thanks for the commentary from the anti-PSU mob.

  3. “I am personally ashamed to call myself a fellow student in the Commonwealth System of Higher Education. As a Temple Owl, I have always felt inferior to the Nittany Lions, be it in terms of perceived quality of education, the fact that I live five blocks from the ghetto, or that Temple isn’t a raging party school like the blue and white.”

    I understand that this is an opinion article, but this passage is positively disgraceful. Even beyond the fact that you find the need to inflate the actions discussed in your piece as somehow being reflective of “the Commonwealth System of Higher Education” for the sheer purpose of giving your disapproval some sort of illusory validation, the points which follow are even more nauseating. While I am most certainly not one to blindly praise, let alone really identify with, the phantasmic collectivity known as the ‘Temple Owl community’, your apprehensions about Temple are misguided and crude. For one, Temple University provides a fine education; it’s quality is most certainly on par with, at least, Penn State’s. However, I am less concerned about this point than the following two, which are truly quite appalling. Even if one were to disregard the silliness of the fact that your inferiority complex is partially based on the geographic location of the ‘community’ with which you identify, the prejudicial sentiment of your statement is truly reprehensible. To follow up this contemptible statement with the revelation that you are ashamed to be a member of an educational institution for the utterly banal reason of the diminished quality of its ‘raging’ parties is nothing short of vulgar. While I would agree that the actions of the Penn State students warranted a critique, I find yours to be shockingly unrefined. Perhaps you, Alexis Sachdev, should attempt to “take a step back and realize the magnitude and implications” of the truly vulgar sentiments you have espoused here. I need not inflate my issue here: I am personally ashamed to call myself a fellow student of someone whose opinion is mainly structured by such prejudice and banality.

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